Friday, October 30, 2009

Week 9 Game of the Week

This year we have five judges for Game of the Week, each ranking their top five games. The games are then given from one to five points, based on these rankings, and whichever game receives the most total points wins the award. First place each week will receive a $150 bonus prize, second place $75, and third place $50. Our five judges are: IM Greg Shahade, FM Jim Dean, NM Michael Aigner, NM Jeff Ashton, and NM Arun Sharma. Click here for more details.


*Due to Michael Aigner currently being on vacation, for this week and the next we will have only four judges.

1st Place: IM John Bartholomew (DAL) vs IM Jan van de Mortel (CHC) 0-1

IM Van de Mortel played the interesting novelty 17... Rc5!? and eventually utilized it to good effect, gaining great pressure brought about by this sac which IM Bartholomew was unable to withstand.

Jeff Ashton: Another exciting Dragon (the other one that comes to mind is Bryan Smith's win a few weeks ago). Jan really heated up in his last few games. Bonus points for "GOTWing" last week's GOTW winner. (1st place: 5 points)

Greg Shahade: I felt that this was the most interesting game this week. While 17... Rc5 might not be great for Black, it's certainly very interesting and posed White some peculiar problems. I suspect it was the kind of move where White just sat there thinking "This can't be good, I must be crushing him", but it was never quite as easy as he wanted it to be. And after trying to figure out how to crack this strange exchange up position, things slowly started drifting away, and Black developed a dangerous counterattack. What can I say, I just liked this game.

Note that according to Jan's analysis, I supposedly analyzed this opening with him about ten years ago! I've never played this line myself so it probably had to do with preparing him for one of his opponents. In any case I cannot remember it, and while watching the game one of the kibitzers was strongly in favor of Rc5, and I remember thinking he had lost some marbles, but then a few minutes later it was played on the board! (1st place: 5 points)

Jim Dean: It seems like we've had several interesting Dragon games in the League this season, and this one was played well on both sides. Unfortunately for White, it felt a lot easier to play Black's position during the critical stages of the game. Mating with a Bishop and Knight was a nice final touch. Congrats to Jan on another top GOTW finish. (3rd place: 3 points)

Arun Sharma: Although I didn't rank this game, I wasn't surprised to see it get ranked by the others as it definitely was one of the more interesting games played this week, though I'm still surprised it wound up winning. While Van de Mortel's novelty 17... Rc5 was very interesting, I had a hard time being able to ascribe it as a strong novelty as despite the result of the game, it seemed that Bartholomew was doing very well for the majority of the game.

However, Black did play quite well, putting White under tremendous pressure which he understandably was not able to endure, especially when getting in time trouble. But despite that, the combination of the novelty seeming somewhat dubious along with White self destructing a bit more than I feel the games which finish high in this contest ought to generally allow, I ended up not ranking this game.

But whatever way I happened to judge this game, congratulations to Van de Mortel on his second consecutive very strong GOTW finish and for his third victory in a row. Even if it's too late for his team this season, it's nice to see him get some recognition for his fine play. (NR: 0 points)

Total Score of Bartholomew vs Van de Mortel: 13 points


2nd Place: GM Eugene Perelshteyn (BOS) vs FM Bruci Lopez (MIA) 1-0

GM Perelshteyn struck with 34. Ne6! Rf6 35. Bh5, putting FM Lopez in a virtual zugzwang, compelling him to bite the bullet and snatch the d5 Pawn, after which White nicely infiltrated with his Rook and soon finished the game with a strong attack, mating with a paucity of material.

Jim Dean: I felt Perelshteyn played extremely well in this game and really never let Lopez have any fun throughout. Lopez has shown in previous USCL matches that he can handle the Black side of the King's Indian Defense quite well, but could not have been happy with his position virtually at any point in this game. Cute minor piece mate to finish it off. (1st place: 5 points)

Arun Sharma: This, along with the Bhat game, I felt were definitely the two highest quality games played this week which is why I chose to rank them in the top two spots. In both I felt that the winner played very well, winning in very clean fashion, without any huge errors from their opponent.

What impressed me most about this game was the nice endgame technique. Perelshteyn really made it look so easy, winning in such short order when it seemed likely that it would be a very long grind in order to reach victory. (2nd place: 4 points)

Jeff Ashton: An example of why the King's Indian Defense is the hardest opening to play in chess. Black's game seemed difficult, and White sat comfortably throughout. Nice precise play by Perelshteyn. Perelshteyn is definitely one of my favorites this season, and I'm glad that his games are getting recognition. (3rd place: 3 points)

Greg Shahade: This game seemed a bit too easy to me, and also when Lopez simply hangs mate in two at the end, it was hard for me to get too excited. Admittedly, Black is already lost there, but this is just not the type of game I'm generally ranking highly in GOTW. (NR: 0 points)

Total Score of Perelshteyn vs Lopez: 12 points


3rd Place: FM Todd Andrews (TEN) vs GM Vinay Bhat (SF) 0-1

GM Bhat broke through with 40... e3!, utilizing his pressure on the g-file to deadly effect and ending the game in short order.

Arun Sharma: As mentioned above, this was one of those games which, in addition to being well played by the victor, had them winning without any obvious errors by the opponent. I know I often rank these types of games a bit higher than the other judges who mostly tend to prefer games with a bit more flash, even if they come with some fair errors. As such, it wasn't a big shock that I appreciated this and the Perelshteyn game a bit more than the other judges on the whole.

Like the Perelshteyn game, I was impressed by how easy Bhat made this game look, drumming up his strong attack with seeming ease and then conducting it very efficiently, never allowing any real counterplay and again managing to do this without any obvious errors by Andrews.

Personally, I felt the two most interesting games this week were the Charbonneau game and the Herman game (in that order). The Charbonneau game contained a ton of creative play and interesting moments, and but for a few very critical errors late, I definitely would have ranked it higher (likely first). In the Herman game, Black seemed to play very well, building up his attack well and then conducting it precisely, but like the Van de Mortel game (which I did not rank), I felt the losing side self destructed a bit too much to rank the game above the high quality efforts of Bhat and Perelshteyn. (1st place: 5 points)

Jeff Ashton: These "slow build-up" attacks are fun to watch. I really like the way Black handled the opening and middle game and then transitioned into a Kingside attack.
(2nd place: 4 points)

Jim Dean: Bhat played a really nice game here and was constantly improving his position and making progress on both sides of the board. My biggest knock against this game was that I didn't understand White's plan at any point during it, and I'm not sure if White ever really managed to make even a single threat. Todd is an excellent player and a former teammate of mine, but this just wasn't a good game on his end. (NR: 0 points)

Greg Shahade: Yet another game that didn't inspire me. Bhat played well of course, but sometimes a game simply doesn't grab my attention, and this was one of those games. (NR: 0 points)

Total Score of Andrews vs Bhat: 9 points


Other Considered Games (judges' scores in parenthesis)

7 points (Greg 3, Jim 2, Arun 2):
GM Pascal Charbonneau (NY) vs IM Tegshsuren Enkhbat (BAL) 1-0

6 points (Arun 3, Greg 2, Jeff 1):
WGM Sabina Foisor (BAL) vs NM Matt Herman (NY) 0-1

4 points (Jim 4):
FM Marcel Martinez (MIA) vs SM Denys Shmelov (BOS) 1-0

4 points (Greg 4):
GM Patrick Wolff (SF) vs IM Ron Burnett (TEN) 1-0

2 points (Jeff 2):
IM Levon Altounian (ARZ) vs FM Slava Mikhailuk (SEA) 1-0

1 point (Jim 1):
FM Oleg Zaikov (CAR) vs IM Yury Lapshun (QNS) 1-0

1 point (Greg 1):
David Justice (TEN) vs NM Yian Liou (SF) 1-0

1 point (Arun 1):
GM Hikaru Nakamura (SEA) vs GM Alejandro Ramirez (ARZ) 1/2-1/2


Tom Panelas said...

Congratulations, Jan. Great game.

Mark Ginsburg said...

I am most curious how Jan would improve if I just follow the exact way I played in my game against him, 2008 USCL. :)

Ilya said...

This game is of very low quality imo for both sides, stating with the dubious nc5.

Anonymous said...

Does the MVP winner receive $$?
Do the 1st-3rd team boards receive $$$ too?
Does the winning team receive anything?

Is this published anywhere?

Arun Sharma said...

Yes, MVP and the members of All Star Team all get some $. You can see this post from last year's All Stars to get an idea of how much (though this year the amounts are slightly different, which you will see when we publish the All Stars):